Episode 10: Words in the Air
Director: Jeff Dorn
Traditional storytelling finds a new voice on the airwaves thanks to indigenous broadcasters in New Zealand, Australia and Canada. Bilingual young directors, producers and presenters who speak their languages are working and thriving in all three countries that have their own indigenous broadcasting systems.
“Maori television exists simply for the promotion and revitalization of the language. That was the reason it was established and so we have to meet that expectation. Our children’s programming is in 100% language.”- Manutai Schuster, Head of Acquisitions & Commissioning, Maori Television
In New Zealand, Maori people and their language have a strong presence in the broadcasting field. Maori TV broadcasts entirely in the Maori language, presenting both original Maori language programming as well as Maori versions of existing programs. Independent Maori production companies are key in creating original Maori language programming. Graduates of the Maori language nests and schools have the opportunity to work in their language and dominate the broadcasting industry.
“Remote media is very strongly about language and keeping language strong. And we try as much as possible with all of our programs, all the broadcasting to do that in indigenous language.” - Danial Featherstone, Media Coordinator, Ngaanyatjarra Media
In Australia, many languages and a vast territory mean that there are many broadcast venues. Large broadcasters, like National Indigenous Television and Australian Broadcasting Corporation, tend to provide English language shows focusing on issues affecting Aborigines. Broadcasters in remote parts of the country tend to air more programs in indigenous languages. IndigiTube, the Aborigine answer to YouTube, celebrates the everyday lives of Australia’s remote indigenous population.
“Our audience are looking to us to not only provide language programming, they're looking to APTN to provide entertainment that could be in languages.” - Jean LaRose, CEO, APTN
Canada's Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN) broadcasts news, entertainment and language programming in more than one indigenous language as well as the two official languages of the country. Wapos Bay, a stop-motion animated series about three Cree children living in Northern Saskatchewan, is one of the programs that airs in different language versions. We go inside the Wapos Bay animation studio and witness the painstaking teamwork that goes into making each episode come to life.